RYAN NEWMAN --02-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 2nd) "We definitely had a lot more rubber on the track today. The track finally opened up and we did some two and almost three-wide racing. It was really a great run for us overall as a team. We had...
RYAN NEWMAN --02-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 2nd)
"We definitely had a lot more rubber on the track today. The track finally opened up and we did some two and almost three-wide racing. It was really a great run for us overall as a team. We had to go to a backup car before qualifying and the first lap on the track was the first qualifying lap, so I had a lot of pressure on me as a driver. I put myself in that position, but the team helped me overcome that adversity. We struggled a little bit mid-race today and as we kept freeing it up, the track kept tightening up just from getting warmer and warmer. We had a really good run there at the end. My crew chief, Matt Borland, did an excellent job of making a call to go with a gas-and-go and I think that got us out sixth at the time and gave us an opportunity to stay up front and use the track position to our advantage."
DID THE RED FLAG STOP YOUR MOMENTUM? "Not really. I think seeing after what happened the last six laps or whatever it was, the rest of the field compared to my car seemed to be a little different in the respect that my car re-fired better on older tires. I never really expected to get passed Ricky like that. He had gone by me a couple times during the day and he looked pretty strong, so to be able to be with Jeff there at the end was definitely a key point."
DID THE ARCA RACE AT THIS TRACK HELP YOU? "It's definitely an advantage, as much for the team as it is me because it gives them the opportunity to know what a race car likes at this track and it gives me an opportunity to know what the fast line is. No matter if you're in an ARCA car or a Winston Cup car or a Busch car, the fast line is usually the fast line."
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE CAUTIONS? "I think it was partially part of being a new race track -- not just the surface or the track or anything like that, but just drivers adapting to it. For instance, when we go down into turn one at the start of a race at Charlotte, everybody -- unless you're a rookie -- you pretty much know what to expect. The incident there on the first lap, I'm not sure what happened. It kind of appeared to be that maybe it was somewhat of a same situation. The track, like I said, really came around to us about halfway through the race and it opened up to where we had two and sometimes three-wide racing. I think those cautions were just part of racing. Some days you'll have a lot and some days you won't have any."
HOW DID THE CAUTIONS AFFECT YOU? "It gave us an opportunity for my crew chief and I to think about what we needed to do to the race car to make it better. Roger Penske was on the radio with me as our spotter today and he gave a lot of advice and gave us some thoughts about what we needed to do with strategy like gas-and-go, two tires, things like that. It gives you time to think sometimes when you're not a top-five or top-10 car at the time."
ARE YOU MORE ACCUSTOMED DRIVING AT THIS LEVEL NOW? "I've definitely learned a lot more. It seems when you get up towards the front of a field, you're less prone to being involved in accidents. Say, for instance, when there was 25 laps to go, we had a double-file restart and when you're restarting 10th, you're actually restarting 20th and that can lead to a lot more problems. It's just an opportunity when you get out front to drive better and be able to race better."
WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT PASSING GORDON IF YOU HAD A COUPLE MORE LAPS? "When I got by Ricky Rudd I knew that we had a car that was capable of, if not getting to Gordon, at least staying where we were with him. If he maybe slipped up a little bit, I was gonna be there but I was never really in that position except for one lap. The lap I got by Ricky going down into turn one and two, I got too low on the apron and had to get out of the gas. That cost me a run on Jeff going down into turn three, but I wouldn't have done anything any different than I had done already. I wouldn't have gotten up against him or rubbed him or anything like that. He's obviously a proven champion. He's the points leader and there's no reason for me to take that position like that."
IS IT GRATIFYING TO FINISH SO HIGH WITH SOME OF THE PROBLEMS YOU'VE HAD? "It's definitely gratifying for me as a driver to know that we're capable of driving where we ran today and finishing second to a champion like Jeff. We overcame a lot of adversity this weekend and that, to me, is just as important as finishing up front. Giving us the opportunity to do that is definitely key, so I guess overall it was just a great weekend for the entire ALLTEL team. When we struggled, we struggled for a little bit and overcame that adversity."
WHERE DOES THIS RANK IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR? "It's definitely probably the highlight of our season, finishing second. We had our first pole at Charlotte and several Busch poles and a Busch win, but finishing second here at new race track to Jeff is really a highlight. It really gives me a lot of momentum and thought going into Charlotte weekend, knowing that we ran really well there. I made a mistake and we didn't finish the race, but we've got great notes. We're going back to Charlotte and this should give us a lot of momentum as far as the team -- to go back and make that next step."
WHAT ABOUT THE ABC SCHEDULE THIS YEAR? "The ABC schedule we put together this year was planned on purpose in order to give me an opportunity to run several different race tracks. If we would have run a full schedule in Busch, we wouldn't have had an opportunity to go to places like Pocono. It was planned on purpose. We've got five Busch cars and I've got an assortment of ARCA and Winston Cup cars, but it gave us an opportunity as a team to learn different race tracks and different places and even the simple things about where you need to go and all the things you need to do while you're there."
WHAT ABOUT THE CAUTIONS? "I think the cautions were just indicative of good, hard racing at a new facility. It's gonna happen. I wasn't driving at the time, but I'm pretty sure it happened in the inaugural Texas race. It's just part of growing with NASCAR and growing with the Kansas Speedway."